Should Raiders roll with Karl Joseph or look elsewhere?

The Las Vegas Raiders can and must address the safety position. To do so, they could bring back Karl Joseph or perhaps take a dive into free agency for some answers.

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock is no doubt aware the defensive backfield is anything but flawless. Johnathan Abram should be a starter next year despite playing in only one game last season, but what about Joseph? Joseph himself said in 2019 that he wants to return, but is the interest mutual?

Related: Raiders must avoid damage goods in free agency

Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic recently featured Joseph in an offseason list regarding upcoming free agents and said the following:

“He [Joseph] suffered a season-ending foot injury last season and appeared in only nine games, which makes it tricky to predict what Joseph’s market will look like. Teams that play a lot of single-high coverages and are looking for a prototypical free safety are unlikely to be interested. But Joseph could be appealing to defenses looking for a young strong safety with upside.”

It seems like Joseph’s last season sample could both hurt and benefit him as far as returning to the Raiders. He can come back on the cheap, maybe a one-year prove it deal. The alternative is he believes he should be playing somewhere where he earns “starter” money.

Free agency dilemma

Next month, free agency will provide some interesting options for the Raiders should they opt for this route. Their financial flexibility will allow Mayock to look at some potential upgrades should he not plan on using any picks on a safety in April. Let’s take a look at some curious possibilities.

Tony Jefferson

Like Joseph, injury derailed Jefferson’s 2019 season. Ted Nguyen of The Athletic seems to think that Jefferson could be a smart pick up for the Raiders. The veteran’s on field flexibility would also be beneficial as he roamed the open field with the Cardinals and the Ravens. The 2017 and 2018 campaigns were statistically speaking, Jefferson’s best. His total salary in 2018 was $8 million, which could be steep for the Raiders, but coming off an injury might benefit Las Vegas in that regard.

Vonn Bell

The 25-year old strong safety, who has proven to be relatively durable in his NFL career, could be another intriguing possibility. With the Saints, he started 45 starts in 61 games, racking up 348 tackles, seven forced fumbles, and 14 passes defensed. The total worth of his contract in New Orleans was for four years and shy of $4 million dollars total.

Whether Karl Joseph returns or the Raiders opt for Bell, Jefferson or someone else, there’s still work to be done in the backfield.

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